Growing up in the Midwest, my mom made big pots of vegetable soup on Sundays in the winter. Like her, I love to make a big pot of soup and smell it cooking all afternoon. It makes for a great dinner and even better leftovers for lunch during the work week. My love of making soup comes from her, but I feel like I have turned it up a notch in the last couple of years.
A few years ago I found this amazing recipe for Giada De Laurentiis‘ Turkey, Brown Rice, and Kale Soup. Click here for the link. This soup features a twist in regards to the seasoning, using a tablespoon of herbes de Provence. I love this spice, but I would be surprised if my mom had this spice in her kitchen 40 years ago in Mascoutah. You can buy it in the spice isle or make your own. Click here for a recipe from Martha Stewart.
While I really like this recipe, I have since added a few wrinkles and now call it “Refrigerator Soup”. Basically, I take whatever vegetables we have in the ‘frig and put it in the soup. I also have cut out the rice because we don’t need the extra carbs.
To make my refrigerator soup, I start by mincing an onion and cooking it in a tablespoon of olive oil until its translucent. Click on this link for some tips on cooking perfect onions every time. I also mince half a shallot and add it to the onion.
While that mix softens, I peel and chop 2 cups of carrots into bite-sized pieces. I also chop 4 full stalks of celery, including the leaves. Once chopped, I put both in the pot with the onions. I let them cook for 10 minutes or so, stirring every few minutes.
While that mix softens, I chop up two zucchinis and one yellow squash. Both zucchini and squash have its ancestry in the Americas, but zucchini originated in Italy. If I have some leftover grilled vegetables, I add those at this time as well. In the summer, we love the flavor of grilled red peppers, zucchini, squash, and onions in this soup!
I also open a large can of whole tomatoes and put it in the pot at the same time as the zucchini and squash. If I want it to have more of a tomato flavor, I add a can of diced tomatoes as well, not draining it.
About 10 minutes later, I open 3-4 containers of organic chicken broth and add it to the pot. You can use chicken, vegetable, or beef broth depending on your tastes (or what you have in the cabinet).
After I add the broth, I add a package of uncooked turkey meat, cut in chunks.
I add a few cans of beans as well: whatever I have on hand. I prefer to use a can each of black beans, white Northern beans, and red Kidney beans. I also add a handful of lentils to the mix. The beans give it some added fiber and flavor. This is a super hearty soup that is perfect for any season.
I love Okra so if I have some of that in the freezer, I had a cup of it as well.
A few minutes later, I add an entire bag of chopped Tuscan Kale. The key is to use Tuscan Kale, not regular Kale, because it has such a good, nutty flavor. Read more about Tuscan kale here.
I stir it all, adding some salt and pepper to taste (one teaspoon each). I love Napa Style’s gray salt! About an hour into starting the pot, I add a tablespoon and a half of herbes de Provence. The smell is so fragrant, y0u will want to eat a bowl right then!
The can of black beans on the floor is proof this wasn’t my best play (to the left). One tip when making any soup, don’t leave a can on the electric can opener alone to open. In fact that is a good rule of thumb when doing any cooking. I am yet to find an electric can opener that lasts more than a few months. Any suggestions?
After a second hour of cooking, I ladle it into bowl and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Be prepared for everyone to ask for seconds!
Why Travel, Cooking and DIY? A creative type, I have always loved painting and decorating as a hobby. Upcycling is a real passion. My mom was a Home Ec teacher when we were growing up. I learned a lot from her and because I love hosting get-togethers, I had to step up my game in the kitchen as well. And lastly, my love of travel comes from my Grandma Schmitt.
An Illinois native, I worked in the White House Communications Agency early in my career (President Reagan), prior to returning to Illinois State University to finish my undergraduate and Master's. After a couple of post-graduate internships (minor league baseball and Big Ten Conference), I then worked in college athletics full-time for more than 22 years -- first at the University of South Carolina for 15 years and then at Santa Clara University for the last seven years. We moved to Tampa, Florida in Dec., 2016 after spending 8.5 years in Northern California.